Report: Mariners close to Bedard deal
Top prospect Jones leaves winter ball for physical
SEATTLE -- The Mariners' pursuit of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher apparently is close to a successful conclusion.According to what right fielder Adam Jones told reporters in Venezuela on Sunday, he is among the Seattle players being dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard, a trade that would become finalized when all players involved pass physicals. The Mariners apparently would send Jones, left-handed reliever George Sherrill and Minor League pitcher Chris Tillman, along with one more Minor League player, to the rebuilding Orioles for Bedard. Mariners club officials, including general manager Bill Bavasi, could not be reached for comment Sunday night, but a club spokesperson confirmed that Jones is returning to the United States after helping the Lara Cardenales of the Venezuela Winter League reach the playoffs. Bedard went 13-6 with a 3.16 ERA for the Orioles last season. His season ended on Aug. 25 because of a strained oblique muscle. Before the injury, he had been considered a leading contender for the Cy Young Award, pitching 182 innings and striking out 221 batters, a total that ended up leading the American League. Bedard also would have to pass a physical administered by the Mariners before the deal is consummated, but as of Sunday night, no such physical had been scheduled for the left-hander. Jones broke the news of the impending trade, telling a reporter from Diario Panorama in Venezuela that he received a telephone call from Bavasi on Saturday. "He told me I've got to go to Baltimore and handle things there," Jones told reporters. "I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners' side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard. "He's one of the best. Last year, he finished up as arguably one of the top candidates for the Cy Young," Jones added. "He's that good, so for me, it's an honor. You know, I like Seattle, but if I am in Baltimore, as I think I am now, I'm going to embrace it and have the best time of my life in Major League Baseball."
While Jones, the Mariners' No. 1 Draft choice in 2003, is regarded as a future star, Bedard would give the Mariners a terrific one-two punch with right-hander Felix Hernandez. Either one could be considered the staff ace and possibly lead the Mariners to their first playoff appearance since 2001.Sherrill, one of the Mariners' top relievers last season when he posted a 2-0 record and 2.36 ERA in 73 appearances, said Sunday night from his Salt Lake City home that he's not aware of any deal that includes him. "I have not heard a thing," he said, "but am preparing myself for the worst." He said he and his girlfriend are scheduled to leave on Wednesday for Peoria, Ariz., and Spring Training, which begins Feb. 14 for pitchers and catchers.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.